Addressing an international press conference on Thursday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Hungary’s goal is to have “anti-immigration forces” in the majority in every European Union institution.
Hungary wants to see an anti-immigration majority first in the European Parliament, then the European Commission and eventually, through member states’ national elections, in the European Council as well, Orban said. The prime minister said May’s European parliamentary elections would be “historic”, because Europeans would finally get to have their say on the issue of migration. Hungary so far has been the only member state where the people have been given the chance to express their views on migration, he said. Orban added that his Fidesz party’s aim for the elections was “to be the most successful party” in Europe and in the European People’s Party.
Migration is not simply an issue that will be in the focus of the European parliamentary elections but one that is profoundly transforming European policies, Orban said. The traditional division of parties into left wing and right wing is being replaced by a new division based on either being pro-migration or anti-migration, he said. The migration debate also has bearing on attitudes to Christianity, making the protection of Christian culture a political duty, Orban said. It also has a bearing on the debate about sovereignty because migration advocates disrespect the decisions of those against taking in migrants, he added.
The prime minister said that migration would be Europe’s defining issue in next 15-20 years, arguing that the population growth rates of Africa and Asia were higher than their population retention rates.
Hungary can be proud that it was the first country to prove that migration can be stopped on land, and for a long time not even countries with maritime borders attempted to achieve such a feat, the prime minister said. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was the first to say that this could be done, Orban said, adding that this had made Salvini a “hero” in his eyes.
The prime minister said the Polish-Italian axis was “one of the best things to happen” and great hope was set in store for this development.
“This means for us that the governing and anti-immigration forces to the right of the EPP are looking for forms of cooperation. It is good news because the EPP is looking for pro-immigration allies,”he said.
Orban noted that Fidesz is a member of the EPP and added that “loyalty in Hungary is a political value”. “As long as we are [in the EPP] — hopefully for a long time — we will always be loyal to our party family”. At the same time, he added, the issue of migration “does not recognize party borders” and requires the cooperation of governments. The prime minister said he was always ready to meet Salvini if the migration issue justified doing so and as long as Salvini was responsible for migration issues in Italy.
Migration has already brought about significant changes in terms of Europe’s future, Orban said. In some countries it is already clear that their civilizations will be mixed going forward, and it is only a question of how the people will coexist, he added.
Migration in western Europe is a question of coexistence, Orban said. But in central Europe the debate is centered on “how we can prevent a situation like the one that can already be seen in western Europe,” he added.
Orban said migration had driven western and central Europe far apart, adding that the question was how they can remain united “now that they’ve chosen such different futures.”
A homogeneous European civilization is being replaced by two civilizations: one that builds its future on the coexistence of Islam and Christianity, and the central European model which continues to conceive Europe “as a Christian civilization”, Orban said.
He said the issue of migration was dismantling the EU’s structure and was also behind Brexit. All liberal democrats, he said, were pro-migration, he added.
Commenting on the European parliamentary elections, Orban said “the Hungarian version of the Spitzenkandidat system” was being realized, given that the top official on the Fidesz-KDNP list was Hungary’s nominee for European commissioner [Laszlo Trocsanyi, the current minister of justice] and would thereby enjoy democratic legitimacy with the backing of the Hungarian people. Members of the European Commission won’t be appointed until September-October at the earliest, he said, adding that Trocsanyi’s replacement was not yet on the agenda.
Orban noted that Manfred Weber, the EPP leader who is the party family’s candidate to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as commission president, had voted to approve the Sargentini report due to the issue of the “Soros [Central European] university”. Orban said he had read on the CEU‘s website that the university “does not carry out any educational activities as a Hungarian institution in any another country”. This, he said, was the opposite of the Hungarian regulations and “Manfred Weber was duped” and so there had been no reason for Weber to vote to approve the Sargentini report.
Asked about the opposition’s intention to field a joint list for the European parliamentary elections, the prime minister said that if “they take this path, they will be digging their own grave”. Orban added it was not his job to prevent them.
Asked to comment on an opposition demonstration held in Brussels earlier this week with the participation of Dutch Green MEP Judith Sargentini, Orban said: “This is yet more proof that migration is the key issue of the EP elections.” He added that Sargentini was “a pro-migration politician, so it is not odd that she is demonstrating against the Hungarian government alongside pro-migration Hungarians.” Asked about similar protests against right-wing anti-migration governments in Belgrade, Vienna, Warsaw and Rome, he said that pro-migration forces backed by George Soros were preparing for the EP elections and would demonstrate everywhere. “But this is the rule of the game.”
“The campaign has started, there are demonstrations, people compile petitions … we are in campaign mode and it’s guaranteed to be like this until May,” Orban said. The prime minister said what was new in the campaign was its international dimension. Orban named migration as the campaign’s single most important issue, saying it would be the decisive factor for voters.
Asked about recent cooperation between Hungary’s leftist parties and conservative Jobbik, Orban said the left should consider whether it was right to “legitimise–out of short-term political interest–those who represent anti-Semitism.”
Concerning US billionaire George Soros, he said people who “defend him by referring to his [Jewish] origin” did a disservice both to Hungarian politics and Soros himself.
Referring to the French president, Orban said Hungary duly respected France and its president, “but we cannot conceal the fact that Emmanuel Macron is a pro-migration forces leader”. The prime minister said he and Macron were “on good terms personally” but the future of Europe and the two countries were at stake, and Hungary would suffer if Macron’s agenda were realized.
In response to a question, Orban said Hungary-Germany ties were special as were relations between Fidesz and the CDU-CSU alliance. “Cooperation with Germany has always been a priority for Hungarian foreign policy.”
“We need deep and honest relations, but this is currently missing because German policymakers are failing to respect the decision of Hungarians not to become a migrant country. They are pressurizing us to follow them … we don’t want to so there’s no room for compromise.”
Referring to his visit to Brazil a few days ago, Orban said the debate over migration went beyond the borders of Europe.
In reply to a question, Orban said that Hungarians had taken up “illiberal positions on the key issues of immigration, family and Christian culture”.
Asked to comment Liberal EP party leader Guy Verhofstadt‘s statement that Hungary’s prime minister was neither a Democrat nor a Christian, Orban said: “Liberal thinking in Europe has gone so far that the liberals, today’s number-one enemies of freedom, want to define not only who they are but also who the Christian Democrats are.”